5 Tips for Work / Life Balance (whether you work for pay or not)

MarcilieWork / Life Balance4 Comments

“Balance” means something different to everyone.  But we all know how it feels.  And have you noticed that when you feel it, parenting (and everything) is so much easier? 

Balance RocksTo me, “balance” does not mean having equal amounts of things.  Rather, it means having as much of something as you need, in order to feel a sense of peace, fulfillment, and general well-being.

For example, some people need lots of challenging work; others need just a little.  Some people need lots of social time; others need plenty of alone time.

Your recipe for “balance” is unique to you.  What does your recipe call for, and in what amounts?  What “ingredients” have you been short on?  And what ingredients have you been adding, simply because that’s what someone else’s recipe calls for?

I would love to help you get clear on what’s in YOUR recipe.  Contact me to explore coaching.

In the mean time, here are 5 tips to get you closer to “just right.”

1. Let go of perfection.  Someone once said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Well, I don’t agree! There are some things that are worth doing very, very well. But not everything. Some things are worth doing “good enough.” When we put pressure on ourselves to do everything well, it takes up an awful lot of time and energy, and there’s little left for other priorities.  (What’s more, perfectionism is a leading cause of anxiety in both children and adults.)

As a person, letting go of perfection may mean stopping yourself from re-reading your email for the 5th time to make sure it’s perfectly said.  As a parent, it may mean frozen pizza for dinner some nights so that you have time to play with your kids or read a book for pleasure. As a professional, it may mean that you delegate to someone more junior even though you know you could do it better.

2.  Ask for help.  If you feel like you’re doing too much of the work (in your home, team, community, etc.) it’s probably because you are.  Ask for help!  It may be true that your partner/direct report/child/mother/nanny/etc. will not do it as well as you will . . . Maybe that’s OK!  (see tip #1 above.) It may be true that everyone else is also busy. . . They can tell you if so.  Or maybe you are assuming that others don’t want to, or can’t help. . . They may surprise you (especially your kids.)

When you ask for help, you are not only freeing up your own time, but you are also giving others an opportunity to learn and grow, to be helpful themselves, and you are sending them a message that you believe they are capable.

3.  Do less.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  You are talented, competent and capable of doing a lot of great things.  You want to be thoughtful, helpful, productive and kind.  When there’s something to be done, you may feel like you should jump in and do it.  Well, not necessarily!

When you say “yes” to something, recognize that you are saying “no” to something else.  What are you saying “no” to?  You might be saying “no” to much needed alone time, exercise, conversation and connection with loved ones, or sleep.  Do you really want to make that trade-off?  Sometimes the answer will be yes.  The point is to be conscious of the trade-off.

4.  Ask for what you need.  This sounds so simple but I assure you, for many, it is not!  I see client after client who knows what s/he needs, but is afraid to ask.  Why not just ask?  Of course you’ll want to ask tactfully, but don’t be afraid to be human, have needs, and make them known.

For example, if you want to work out during the work day, let your boss know and negotiate a win-win.  If you need some time alone in the evening to read or take a bath, ask your partner, “Hey Honey, this is something that would really help me feel like a balanced human being.  Will you please _____ so that I can do that?”   You might just get what you ask for.

5.  Let go of guilt.  Very often, busy parents don’t take care of their own needs because they feel guilty doing so.  But if you often feel exhausted, pushed to your limits, irritable and resentful, it’s a good sign that your guilt is not serving you.  It’s taken me a loooooooong time to appreciate this fact, but I now whole-heartedly believe that self-care is your most powerful lever for balance.  This includes sleep, exercise, and even plain old pleasure.

I know, in the chaos of getting through the day, it’s incredibly hard to prioritize yourself.  However, chronically sacrificing your own needs for those of others will leave you depleted and resentful.  The airlines tell you to “put your own oxygen mask on first” for a very good reason:  you can’t care for others if you’re dead (metaphorically, of course!)  So how do you make time for self care?  Re-read the top 4 tips!

I know you’ve already figured out a lot about how to achieve balance.  Please share your ideas for everyone (including me) in the comment section here!

Would you like some support in finding your balance? Contact me to set up a free 30-minute sample coaching session via phone.


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4 Comments on “5 Tips for Work / Life Balance (whether you work for pay or not)”

  1. Love reading Marcilee’s tips….they always infuse me with great reminders of how to keep a good balance in my life. I particularly liked #3 which is exactly what I struggle with and just reading the point–succinct and clear–is a good flag as I head into next school year with my kids. Thanks for sharing these!

  2. I have that quote from #3 on a sticky note on my computer. it’s a good reminder! Thanks for your note, Rebecca!

  3. I love your description of balance – having as much of something as YOU need, your own recipe! Awesome! And you are right, finding your own recipe is part of the key. I would also add that even your own recipe changes over time, so being open to the changes will help you keep your balance, riding the waves….surfing!

  4. Laura, Thanks for your comment! Great point that your recipe changes over time! That is certainly true for me, and somehow, can be hard to accept. How could it be that I need more alone time now than I did 10 years ago? For a while I thought there was something wrong with me. But no, I just changed. ( ;

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